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Independents' Day

GP job satisfaction soaring, Government survey claims

By Lilian Anekwe

The introduction of the GMS contract sent GPs' morale soaring and core working hours plummeting, according to the official job satisfaction survey conducted by Government-funded researchers.

The findings, the first over a whole year since the advent of the contract, appear at odds with the BMA's recent claims - following its own survey - that GP morale has slumped. However the research was conducted between February 2004 and September 2005. Since then there have been two successive pay freezes and a further contract row this year.

Overall job satisfaction, from a possible score of seven, rose from 4.6 in 2004 to 5.2 in 2005. And job pressure fell over the same period, from 3.4 in 2004 to just 3.1 in 2005 on a five point scale.

The number of hours worked a week dropped from 47.4 in 2001 to 44.5 in 2004 and 40.8 in 2005.

The number of hours worked on call has dropped just over an hour a week since 2001, but risen since 2004.

But there is evidence the intensity of the work might have increased, with 94% of GPs reporting a rise in admin work and 86% a rise in clinical work.

Income rose by more than a quarter in the aftermath fo the new contract, although professional autonomy fell.

The results, compiled by the National Primary Care and Development Centre, come at a difficult time for the profession, with fears they will further encourage ministers to play tough on pay negotiations.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ‘The Government classically uses anything that might be manipulated against GPs. I think one of the saddest things is that the increase in moral evident in 2005 could have been maintained if the Government hadn't set out to denigrate GPs over the last couple of years.

‘I suspect if you surveyed people now, you'd get a very different response.'

Study leader Professor Bonnie Sibbald, professor or health services research at the NPCRDC, told Pulse it was important that the ongoing contract negotiations consid-ered that pay ‘was not everything' to do with job satisfaction.

‘The negotiations have a very narrow focus. Pay is important as a job satisfier but, beyond a certain level, is not alone sufficient to make you happy in your job.

‘Key things that will make for job satisfaction are a manageable and interesting work-load. If GPs feel they don't have these then no amount of money will increase the feeling of job satisfaction lost.'

The study, published in January's British Journal of General Practice, surveyed more than 3,000 English GPs between February 2004 and September 2005.

DH stats: claim GPs have never been happier DH stats: claim GPs have never been happier

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